A second person has died in Democratic Republic of Congo’s 12th recorded outbreak of Ebola, the World Health Organization and the country’s health ministry announced today (February 11). The 60-year-old woman had links to another woman, who was married to a survivor of an earlier outbreak in DRC and who died a few days earlier, according to Reuters.
The cases occurred in the North Kivu province of the country, where a previous outbreak of the disease was declared over by the World Health Organization (WHO) last summer. By then, there had been more than 2,000 deaths since that outbreak’s start in DRC in 2018.
The first person to have died in the latest outbreak was a 42-year-old woman who likely contracted the disease sexually from her husband, according to a WHO official interviewed by The Washington Post. “The evidence has grown over the years that the virus can be found in semen beyond three, to even nine months, or even two years in some cases,” Ngoy Nsenga tells the Post. “Part of our counseling of survivors is to teach them that sexual activity does carry a risk of transmission, and even to conduct testing on their semen to ascertain whether they are free of the virus.”
The 42-year-old woman visited at least three health centers in the last week of January and first week of February, according to a WHO statement about the case. “As of 8 February 2021, a total of 117 contacts has been identified and are under follow up,” the statement says. “Investigations and response activities are ongoing.”
There are currently two vaccines with regulatory approval for the prevention of Ebola: Merck’s Ervebo and a combined vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary. According to the WHO statement, there are supplies of two therapeutics, Regeneron’s antibody cocktail REGN-EB3 (Inmazeb) and Ridgeback Therapeutics’s monoclonal antibody ansuvimab (Ebanga), for up to 400 patients in the country.